During a tour of Judea and Samaria for senior IDF officers, including former Central Command Chief Nitzan Alon, Har Bracha Yeshiva dean Rabbi Eliezer Melamed gave an example of when he believes a religious soldier should be instructed to refuse an order: “Soldiers should not participate in an evacuation [of settlement Jews], because the Torah commandments take precedence,” Israel Channel 2 News reported. When questioned, an IDF Spokesman responded, “The discussion involved different opinions, some of which go completely against IDF positions.” The Beit El Har Bracha yeshiva program includes military service, and the institution receives defense ministry funding.
According to the report, Rabbi Melamed tried to avoid the issue as first, but the officers insisted on asking him for his opinion on the subject, seeking the position of Jewish law in the event of a conflict between a military command and a Torah commandment, and so he finally capitulated and answered them.
“When there is a conflict between the commandments and a command, the commandments supersedes,” Rabbi Melamed told his listeners. “But that does not pertain to security. A soldier must not participate in an evacuation [of Jews]. If there were a life and death issue, then he could. Otherwise, he can’t.”
The IDF said in response that the professional seminar, conducted in honor of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, included Operations Division officers from the Benjamin region, on the different opinions of the residents of Judea and Samaria. Various experts lectured the officers, representing the defense, settlement, Palestinian society and other sectors. “Naturally, during that day, different views were presented, some of which completely contradict IDF positions, but they are out there, and hearing them is not the same as endorsing them,” the IDF spokesperson said.